Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fitness Goal Update!

So...when I started my fitness journey 5 months before my 30th birthday, I wanted to get "fit". I didn't have a clear definition of what being fit entailed. I just knew that areas had to tighten up and I had to change my diet to get there. After 7 months, I now have such a clear view of my goals and what it's taking to accomplish them. But first a little background...
All our lives we're force fed buckets of information in beauty magazines, infomercials, ads, etc. Most have helpful hints, but when it comes to fitness, it's very skewed. They all claim "get fit fast" or "get flat abs in 3 weeks". I'll admit I totally bought into it. I wasnt overweight, so that fast result was totally my head. Nope. Not a chance. I also thought you could target your weight loss in the problem areas. Want flat abs? Do crunches. Want tone thighs? Do squats. Ha! Right. What I didn't realize the past 15 or so years is that we're given bits and pieces of information to sell these magazines but nobody ever really puts it together in a way that makes sense. Bottom line: there is no such thing as a quick weight loss or quick tone up. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Weight loss diets/fads are more of the same. Eating prepackaged meals that are full of sugars, preservatives and who knows what else. That can't be healthy, especially long term. Same goes to the infamous "100 calorie" packs. What are you really getting in those 100 calories? I used to buy those snack packs because they were easy and quick. After learning how to read labels and paying attention to what I was consuming, those packs didn't seem so appealing anymore. Do you know how much nutrient dense food you can eat for 100 calories vs 1 teeny, tiny prepackaged snack? Enough to hold you over between meals and satisfy your sweet/salty cravings. To give you an idea, you can eat 2 whole cups of watermelon and only consume 80 calories. Still think your 100 calorie pack will "fill you up"? I was always left craving more!
I can't even stand the word "diet". Now, I'm sure these systems have worked for many, but I refuse to pay for someone to tell me how to eat or to send me prepackaged "food". After digging and researching, I realized that the change needed to come from me and my actions. I needed to make a complete lifestyle makeover.
I started hitting the gym more, 5-6 days a week. I traded my usual cardio and mini weights routine for something more rigorous. I started integrating plyometrics and heavier weights. That took priority over cardio. I now focus on weights 5-6 days a week. I still do cardio, but cut it down to about 3-4 times a week. When I say weights, I'm not talking the 5-10 lbs range, I'm talking dumbells 15, 20, 25 and barbells up to 40 lbs...that's just for upper body! Ohhh but those weights will make you "bulky", right?! I assure you, I am nowhere near bulky. Women do not have enough testosterone to make them bulk up like a body builder. I am building lean muscle while losing the fat. I'm the smallest I've ever been and I've done it without starving myself or going on a "diet".
Now, after about 3-4 months I was seeing results, but it wasn't good enough. I wanted to see more definition and trim the layer of fat. What was I missing? What wasn't I doing? I thought I was eating healthy-ish. After even more digging, I realized a majority of my intake still came from processed foods and bad fats. Pastas, breads, lunch meats, etc. Slowly but surely I started cutting those foods out and replaced them with a more "clean" diet. Most everything I eat is fresh and naturally low in the bad fats, high in the good fats. Best rule of thumb for eating clean: shop the parameter of the grocery store. The center aisles are where a majority of the processed foods hang out. Yes, eating clean is a little more pricey, but I've learned to get creative and the benefits totally outweigh everything. I never believed the saying until now...abs are made in the kitchen. So. True.
I won't lie, it's not easy to avoid the comfort foods I used to enjoy. I even cut my alcohol intake to almost nothing. Going out to eat is sometimes a challenge and I'm usually faced with annoyed wait staff. But, I have to remind myself, it's ME going to the gym and putting in the hard work. I need not worry about what others think, it's my body. Now here's the good news, I have way more energy and even my sensitive stomach agrees with my new lifestyle! I've gotten creative with my foods and manage my cravings accordingly so I don't miss the unhealthy options. Yes, I do slip and eat birthday cake or chocolate (sweets are my weakness) but I don't dwell on it. I accept it and get right back on track. We're all human, we make mistakes, we're not perfect. As long as I'm happy with what I'm doing, that's all that matters. I've finally gotten fit the healthy way. No starving, no gimmicks, no quick fixes. All it takes is hard work, dedication, preparation, and a lot of sweat. :)
It's a little nerve racking to post pics of me taking pictures of myself, but I am proud of all I have been able to accomplish. Excuse the grainy pics...the lighting in the room wasn't the best!

 BEFORE: Seemingly "fit" but soft and no defined muscle tone.
AFTER: Layer of fat shed, now visible muscle tone. I weigh the same as in the above pictures...maybe 1-2 lbs less. The important part: dropped 4.5% body fat since the beginning of January 2012. Scales are useless! The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest!

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